They say veterans proudly wear their scars and decorations for all to see, and that apparently goes for cars, too, not only for the humans that have served in wars.
In the world of cars, only the ones that get to race end up becoming veterans, as you can’t really slap that moniker on your daily. And in most recent times, one didn’t get to look and feel to us as veteran as the Ford we have here.
Born in 1938 in the Blue Oval’s stables, it quickly embraced a racing career, and was often seen doing its thing at the Brewerton Speedway in New York state. It ventured beyond that, from time to time, making its present felt at tracks in Atlanta, Virginia, or South Boston.
As far as we were able to find out, no major name in the racing scene is linked to this Ford, but that doesn’t make it less appealing. Sure, it probably impacts the price, which reads just $15,995, but not its appeal.
Like any proper racer of its kind, the Ford got some of its body parts stripped and others added from place to place. Up front, the exposed sides of the vehicle let the image of a 1949 Ford flathead engine come to light. The powerplant works by means of a Ford truck 3-speed manual transmission and truck differential and breathes courtesy of a new exhaust system.
According to lore, and old markings on the car, this classic stock car ran races at the Brewerton Speedway in New York state. At some point, the Ford found its way south to Atlanta and then on to Virginia where it continued to participate in Vintage Races at tracks like South Boston well into the ’90s. This ’38 Ford is a vintage stock car from another era. When the coupe was converted into a race car, the body was moved back 5” on the frame for better weight balance. The exterior’s current respray is white enamel with period correct vinyl logos and numbers. Inside this interior is classic racer. A WWII bomber donated the tub seat/seat belt and the driver compartment is protected by a steel roll cage (no Hans device needed). The dash holds period correct Stewart Warner gauges and the driver’s door is welded shut. A Ford Flathead, circa 1949, furnishes horsepower and is backed by a Ford truck 3-speed manual transmission and truck differential. Other mechanical upgrades include:
• Rebuilt carburetor • New ignition components • Rebuilt Ford truck radiator/new hoses • Rebuilt water pumps • Manual and electric fuel pumps • Aluminum fuel tank • New exhaust system • New 6 volt battery (positive-ground) • New master cylinder/wheel cylinders • Bassett Wide-5 steel wheels • New Hoosier asphalt tires w/period-correct Firestone logos
The suspension was modified for racing and a competition right front hub has been installed. This old-school Ford stock car will be a fun addition to someone’s collection. The vehicle is sold on a ‘Bill of Sale’. ALL VEHICLES SOLD “AS IS”.
Only a handful of photographs depicting Leopold Garcia’s El Chicito are known to exist. Even fewer of his other car, known only as the City Car. Garcia himself remains something of an enigma to automotive historians, and the whereabouts of his vehicles were kept so secret that some supposed the cars no longer existed. Yet all of that stands to change later this year when a Route 66 Visitors Center and museum in Albuquerque, not far from where Garcia built his cars, will open with the two cars on display.
“It’s an honor to have these cars showcased at the Route 66 Visitor’s Center,” said Klarissa Peña, an Albuquerque city councilor whose district includes the visitors center. “Leopoldo Garcia lived in New Mexico, so it’s a fitting tribute to honor his innovative work here along Route 66.”
Garcia, according to researcher Robert Cunningham, studied engineering and sculpture at the University of New Mexico before apparently coming to own a salvage yard in El Llanito, a tiny settlement just north of Bernalillo, which in turn is just north of Albuquerque. Cunningham noted that Garcia built a small three-wheeled electric vehicle able to “be operated by a person with only one good limb” before he set out to put his own stamp on contemporary auto design.
According to an April 1957 Motor Life article on his El Chicito, Garcia “looked at the current boxy styles from Detroit and concluded that he would create something not so square.” He started with a 1940 Ford chassis that he cut down to a wheelbase of just 80 inches. (The AMC Gremlin, for comparison’s sake, rode on a 96-inch wheelbase.) The Motor Life article reported that Garcia worked out his design on paper and in clay before roaming his junkyard in search of “curved sections which came closest to approximating the pre-conceived form.” Garcia apparently characterized that form as “fleshy,” Motor Life described it as “organic rather than geometric,” and in that vein Garcia later rechristened El Chicito as Bubbles.
Once he had all his pieces, he then started to weld them together, adding a couple late Thirties Ford taillamps, a Continental-style spare tire cover, headlamps in the shape of eyes, and a homebuilt convertible top. The design essentially precluded doors, so Garcia decided to make entry easier by hinging the windshield to tilt forward.
For power, the Motor Life article claims an unspecified Ford V-8 engine, but Cunningham wrote that Garcia used a 1954 Mercury V-8, which would make it a 161-hp, four-barrel, 256-cu.in., overhead-valve Y-block. No details on the transmission, but Garcia apparently decided that the exhaust pipes could double as rear bumpers. In total, he claimed to have spent just $800 building the 2,200-pound car and displayed it as far afield as Sioux Falls, Minneapolis, Des Moines, and Indianapolis
This is an original Ardun V8 engine, or perhaps more correctly this is a modified Ford Flathead V8 engine with Ardun heads and a slew of other upgrades that is now vastly more powerful than it was from the factory.
The Ardun OHV heads developed a legendary reputation in the hot rod world, they allowed people to modify their Ford Flathead V8 relatively quickly into an engine producing 200 bhp or more, up from 65 bhp in stock trim.
The name Ardun is a portmanteau of Arkus and Duntov, the hyphenated surname of Zora Arkus-Duntov and his brother Yuri, immigrants from Belgium by way of Russia who would go on to have an oversized impact on both the hot rod and sports car worlds in the United States around the mid-20th century.
The two men had arrived in the United States as refugees after the outbreak of WWII in Europe, they immediately turned their attention and engineering acumen to helping the war effort. They founded the Ardun Mechanical Corporation in 1942, initially producing dies and punches for ammunition and later produced parts for aircraft.
After the war they retooled, Zora and George Kudasch designed a set of high-performance overhead valve heads for the flathead Ford V8. The Ford Flathead V8 had become an almost ubiquitous performance engine in the United States since its introduction in 1932, as it was cheap to buy and easy to fix.
Perhaps the biggest problem with the engine was its propensity for overheating, largely due to an inefficient exhaust port design that siamesed the two inner ports on each side. This mostly affected trucks, but it reduced performance in automobiles too, and Zora knew that a good overhead valve head would solve the issue once and for all.
He took his design concepts to Ford who showed no interest whatsoever, a significant mistake from the company as just a few short years later they would witness the introduction of the Chevy small block V8 – an engine that blew them out of the water.
Zora and Yuri put the heads into production themselves, several flaws in the original design came to light, and significant time was spent ironing them out and turning them into a reliable, pair of high-performance heads.
Hot rods and land speed racers fitted with Ardun heads set a slew of world records out on the Bonneville Salt Flats, one example set a C/Street Roadster record of 162.61 mph in 1951, producing over 303 bhp at 5,250 rpm.
Vast distinctions exist among overhauling, rebuilding, restoring, and blueprinting engines. As a customer, you should know exactly what you are seeking from a machine shop. Communication, clarity, and a clear understanding of terminology are critical to achieving the desired result.
Basically, an overhaul could include deglazing cylinder walls,re-ringing existing pistons, a possible bearing change, and installing new gaskets, just to get the engine running. Rebuilding may include new parts but not necessarily complete machining of cylinder bores or crank grinding; it might require only a polish. Restoration usually includes all new parts and complete machining to factory specs as outlined in the factory manual. Blueprinting includes installing all new premium parts, complete machining to specified tolerances, balancing, and more to achieve optimum performance and durability.
Depending upon where you live, finding a machine shop to tackle your block may or may not be easy. The flathead is not a complicated engine, but it does have its idiosyncrasies, and a shop that typically rebuilds small-block Chevys might not be the place to go. We mean no disrespect, but the shop needs to know flatheads. If it doesn’t, don’t pressure the shop into learning or experimenting on yours. It might be a costly mistake for both parties.
Be sure to take plenty of photographs of your block and any little identifying marks it may have. You don’t want to hand over a fairly good block but receive a different and perhaps poorer-quality block after the work is done. You might even want to put your own mark on the block before handing it over or shipping it out of town.
I heard one story of a guy shipping a complete, brand-new rotating assembly to an engine builder. When the engine came back, however, it soon seized. Tearing it down revealed that the builder had switched out the good internals for a set of not-so-good originals. It pays to be aware of such possibilities.
It’s always smart to do plenty of research before you settle on a machine shop. You can learn a lot about a shop by checking the Internet, where people are quick to air their grievances. You can also ask fellow enthusiasts about their experiences. Caveat emptor (let the buyer beware) is the phrase to keep in mind
Blueprinting and Balancing
These words hold much mystique, and summon images of a black art. However, they mean nothing more than making sure that parts are balanced and that the engine is assembled to certain specifications and tolerances recommended by the manufacturer for optimum performance for the desired application, such as street use, racing, or touring.
If you are rebuilding a stock engine, it’s fairly easy to follow the Ford specifications found in the various service bulletins. Most people building hot rod engines use components from a variety of sources. Nevertheless, you should still follow specs for main bearing clearances, ring gap clearances, cam timing, head port and chamber volumes, torque for bolts, and so on.
Factory specs are parameters that suffice for mass-production engines (taking into account time, labor, materials, and so on). They meet the driving needs of the general public with a broad range of driving styles. A blueprinted engine meets and exceeds those factory parameters.
Theoretically, there is no tolerance for a blueprinted engine. It either is or it isn’t, and there’s no in-between. If you build two engines to factory specs, there will always be variances between rod and main bearing clearances, variances in piston clearances, deck height differences, valve-spring pressure differences, and intake and exhaust port and chamber volume differences. If you blueprint an engine for racing at Bonneville, for example, there should be no variances. It should be built to a specific race spec.
Properly blueprinting an engine takes many hours, a lot of patience, and a lot of skill. To achieve a properly running, reliable engine, you need to follow procedures and not just throw it all together.
Balancing is also worth worrying about, because a well-balanced engine is like a well-balanced checkbook: Keep it on the good side and life will be good. Theoretically, to do it correctly you should preass emble the engine before balancing the components, so that any subsequent machine process or task does not affect the balancing act. The order of the day is: pre-assemble, machine if necessary, and balance.
If you are running a mixture of aftermarket components (crank, rods, pistons, and so on, all from different suppliers), it is essential to balance the parts. Of course, you can avoid this work if you buy a rotating assembly from one manufacturer. Even if you do, it is still worth checking the parts for quality. I was a crank grinder in my youth, and there were days when I ground good cranks and days when I was in a hurry and just wanted to get it done. Those grinds were within tolerance but were not my best work.
Weight matching and dynamic balancing are the two steps to balancing an engine.
To weight match, you weigh the pistons and the rods individually on a balancing scale to determine the lightest of each. Then, remove a little metal from each, until all of the pistons weigh the same as the lightest piston and all of the rods weigh the same as the lightest rod. Parts are usually measured within .25 gram.
A balancing fulcrum is also used to determine how heavy a rod is at either end. If a rod is a little heavier on the big end (the main bearing end), a little weight is removed from that end to balance the rod. (The procedure employed at H&H is outlined in this chapter.)
Dynamic balancing is the process of balancing the rotating assembly, including crank, rods, and pistons. Although the crank itself is put in the balancer, bob weights are installed to replicate the rod and piston assemblies. Be sure to record all of the weights for the rods, pistons, and associated components; they will be needed later when you balance the crank.
Almost no factory production engine comes precision balanced. Even some so-called performance engines aren’t balanced to within 1 gram, as are the engines balanced by H&H on its Hines electronic balancer.
Does balancing make any difference? The answer is yes. According to Mike, “A well-balanced flathead makes for a smooth-running car. It produces efficient power by eliminating power-robbing vibration and imbalance.” A flathead is balanced internally, as opposed to a 454 Chevy, a 400 Chevy small-block, and 460 Ford trucks, which are balanced externally; each uses a harmonic balancer.
Balancing and Honing the Rods
Although the rods produced by companies such as Scat are extremely well balanced, Mike likes to double-check them because balancing flathead internals is important to a smooth-running engine. In addition, Mike suggests that if you’re reusing stock rods, you should definitely resize the big ends, because years of wear will have forced them out of round. Moreover, you should definitely balance them, because Ford’s tolerances were more liberal. Ford service bulletins give an acceptable weight of 451 to 455 grams; with a little care, all of the rods can weight exactly the same.
Assuming that your desire is a smooth-running, long-lasting engine, then taking your time and being careful will be rewarded. Precisely honing both rods is paramount.
You can balance connecting rods at home, and with a little care, you can match them exactly. You will enjoy a feeling of satisfaction for a job well done.
A few weekends ago, members of my club generously descended upon my garage for a big “thrash” to help me finish my 1931 Ford Model A/B bobtail speedster. When father-and-son Barnstormers VSC (“Vintage Speed Club”) members Brian and Matthew Cholerton arrived, they were towing my next project: a 1929 Ford Model A Tudor sedan. It came at just the right time, because it would prove a positive counterbalance to some unexpected setbacks with the speedster, validating the wisdom of having at least two vehicles to play with.
For almost as long as I had been working on the speedster, I had known that I also wanted a hot-rodded sedan, so when I discovered that Brian had one and that he was planning on selling, we quickly came to an agreement. He even very generously towed it the 200-plus miles from his home to mine. Though I wasn’t quite mentally or financially ready for it, there it was, exactly what I had been hoping for.
And what I had been hoping for was an affordable Model A Tudor in running condition with a serviceable body, but one that wasn’t rare or in such good condition that it would be a good candidate for restoration. As someone whose tendencies run toward preserving historical artifacts (rather than altering or even restoring them), I knew it would be a long time before I’d find one that fit the bill as well as this one did whenever I finally decided I was “ready” to buy one.
As far as this particular sedan goes, and 1929 Tudors in general, they are indeed special… because with 523,922 of them rolling out of Ford’s factories, they hold the record for the greatest number produced of any Model A in any body style for any year. So this means I don’t have to feel quite as bad about hot-rodding the A, at least from a rarity standpoint
In terms of condition, while it starts up, runs, and stops well, has a remarkably clean underside, and no significant dents or rust, it appears that the owner before Brian might have begun restoring the car but then lost interest and hastily put it back together for sale. So while a new correct “Cobra Long Grain” vinyl top had been installed, many other condition issues went partially or entirely unaddressed.
Most obvious of these: Its paint demonstrates a tendency to chip, its driver’s-side door is significantly out of alignment, and its interior is limited to only seat covers and door panels made from cardboard boxes upholstered in gray crushed velvet (crushed velvet?!). Behind those door panels, the metal window anti-rattlers–both bent, and for some reason at the same angle–had been loosely stashed and, along with one internal upright support with broken rivets, had been creating a significant racket when driving.
The “Jersey Devil” has a great running flathead, and a brand new dual exhaust, it’s time to refresh the brakes and take it for a spin! Steve works on going through the braking system that was actually recently replaced before the car sat. New wheel cylinders, a master cylinder and some rubber hoses and the braking system is good as new. Matt works on installing some new wide whites, and killer single bar flipper caps. Once back on the ground, Matt and Steve take it around the block for its maiden voyage!! A few more small projects to wrap up and we have ourselves a new daily driver!!
Canadian snowbirds are plentiful in Arizona this time of year, but this rare and unusual Mercury 2-door sedan seems to have roosted in the dry, warm climate permanently, judging by its remarkably original survivor condition.
The Pick of the Day is a 1947 Mercury 114x, which still wears its original 74-year-old paint and shows just 48,000 miles on its odometer, according to the Tucson, Arizona, dealer advertising the car on Classiccars.com.
The Mercury 114 was built by Ford of Canada for the home market as a more-affordable model, compared with the slightly bigger Mercury 118, the numbers noting the 114-inch and 118-inch wheelbases. The 114 was basically a rebadged and dressed-up Ford, although with a totally different grille treatment.
This sedan coupe, as Mercury called the 2-door configuration, is a rarely seen upmarket Super Deluxe version, designated by the x in its numeric name. It is therefore wearing some nice chrome accents and powered by Ford’s famous flathead V8, which in this model produces somewhere between 93 and 100 horsepower, the dealer says in the ad
Only a tiny percentage of the 10,393 Mercury 114s built for 1947 were Super Deluxe 114x models.
“The 1947 Mercury 114x offered here is one of only 34 produced for US and Canada, as noted in Jerry Heasley’s ‘The production figure book for U.S. cars’,” the seller says. “It remains largely original with only 48,000 original miles since new.
“The car is completely rust free and retains all of its original panels and floors. The paint is largely original and still shines very nice. It has multiple chips, dings, and scrapes from over 70 years of service. Both front fenders have had touch ups, but I cannot find anywhere else that has had paint work on the car.
The Flathead Ford is still the engine of cool for traditionalists in the Hot Rod & Custom Car worlds. Here on the blog I always like to feature items and articles that spread the Flathead word & its storied history. This article from Ryan at the Jalopy Journal is from 2006, and is excellent!
Although probably not as many as rival GM, carmaker Ford has its share of skeletons in the closet. One of them is Mercury, a brand that has been around for about seven decades before being sacrificed to the altar of money-saving
During its time on the market, Mercury was responsible for making vehicles that, in some cases, are still sought after by collectors today. One such vehicle is the iconic Eight, a mid-range machine that came with that irreplaceable feel of classic design, seen on the cars made in the 1940s and 1950s.
The Eight was one of the brand’s heavy hitters and was made in a variety of body styles and rather large numbers. It’s unclear how many of them survive to this day, but if you’re lucky enough to stumble upon one in great condition, expect to pay a fortune for the privilege of owning it.
Lucky or not, we found one, sitting on the lot of cars of a dealer called MaxMotive. It’s a 1947 example, meaning a second generation, and it’s offered, in exchange for $60,750, complete with a very rare and collectible Operator’s Manual.
The car is a convertible, sporting a power-operated burgundy canvas that falls over a gray body and burgundy leather interior with a woodgrain dash.